Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Truck by 2017?

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Rumors of a Hyundai pickup truck have been flying around for a few years now, with the most substantial being a rumored tie-up with Chrysler-Fiat. While that particular rumor has died, a new (and well sourced) rumor has Hyundai importing a mid-size pickup truck in 2017.

The truck would be based on the long wheel base version of the Santa Fe, would be built in Korea (Ulsan), and would challenge the Tacoma, the soon-to-debut Chevy Colorado, and the Nissan Frontier for a slice of the North American pickup truck market. This truck would also be sold outside North America to compete with the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux.

Hyundai pickup truck

This rendering of the rumored Hyundai pickup based on the Santa Fe – which we’re calling the Santa Cruz – looks feasible, doesn’t it? Click for a larger view.

What follows is an analysis of this rumored truck, with informed estimates about this truck’s name, configuration, and specs. As always, we’ve taken the time to consult with various sources in the industry when preparing this estimate. This isn’t to say that what we’re presenting here is factual, but we feel it’s a good first guess at Hyundai’s future truck plans…and there are a lot of reasons to expect this pickup in 2017 or 2018.

First, Why Is Hyundai Going To Start Selling Trucks?

There are a few great reasons for Hyundai to start selling trucks in 2017:

  1. The “chicken tax”, a 25% tariff on imported trucks, expires in 2017.
  2. Fuel economy and emissions regulations will force full-size truck manufacturers to add on a lot of expensive fuel saving features beginning in 2017. As full-size truck prices increase, the market for mid-size trucks (which won’t need the same costly fuel sipping features) could grow.
  3. The cost of developing a pickup from the existing Santa Fe platform is relatively cheap compared to developing a truck from scratch. By focusing on 4-door mid-size truck buyers, Hyundai can essentially bolt a bed onto the back of an existing platform and start selling (eg., the Honda Ridgeline).
  4. Trucks are generally very profitable, and profits are the name of this game.
Hyundai Truck rendering

The bed in this rendering is probably a bit too short when compared to the likely truck we’ll see (which should have a 5 foot bed). However, you get the idea. Click for a larger view.

What’s In A Name?

We’ve guessed that the name of this truck will be the Santa Cruz, partially because that name is a logical connection with the parent model Santa Fe, and partially because Hyundai seems to like naming their products after cities in the Southwestern USA.

  • Santa Fe – mid-size SUV
  • Tucson – a smaller SUV
  • Veracruz – a larger crossover SUV that’s been discontinued

See the pattern? They’re all Southwestern cities, and there’s an alphabetical order here too. Possible names for the Hyundai truck might be:

  • Santa Cruz (our guess)
  • Nevada
  • Rincon
  • Toro
  • Zapata

All of these are well-known Southwestern city names, and all of them sound like good pickup truck names (at least to me). However, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to the rumored Hyundai as a “Santa Cruz” for now, subject to revision.

Powertrains

Since the Santa Fe is the platform for this future pickup, it stands to reason that the Santa Fe’s powertrain options will be offered on this truck as well. Since the truck will be based on the long wheelbase version of the Santa Fe, Hyundai’s 3.3L V6 seems probable. Producing 290hp and 252lb-ft of torque, the 3.3L V6 will likely be a capable challenger to engines offered by Toyota and Nissan.

Hyundai Pickup Toyota Tacoma Nissan Frontier
3.3L V6 4.0L V6 4.0L V6
Direct Injection, DOHC DOHC DOHC
290hp at 6400 RPM 236hp at 5200 RPM 261hp at 5600 RPM
252 lb-ft at 5200 RPM 266 lb-ft at 4000 RPM 281 lb-ft at 4000 RPM

However, it’s worth pointing out that the 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder available in the 5-passenger Santa Fe Sport is very comparable to the V6 – 264hp and 269lb-ft of torque. It may be that the 2.0L turbo is the primary engine in the Santa Cruz at some point.  It’s also possible that Hyundai will offer a small diesel engine (they currently offer a 2.2L diesel on the Santa Fe in Europe), only there are cost concerns with offering this engine in the USA.

As far as putting power to the ground, it’s safe to assume the Santa Cruz would be offered as either a FWD or AWD with a 6-speed automatic. While a 6-speed manual is offered on the Santa Fe sold in Europe, all of the sources we consulted state that it’s unlikely to be offered in the USA.

Towing and Hauling

The maximum payload on a decked-out AWD Santa Fe LWB is about 1300lbs, with a curb weight of 4300 lbs. If we assume that Hyundai will be able to save weight replacing the back end of a 7-passenger SUV with a pickup bed, than a 1500 lbs max payload rating seems perfectly reasonable.

As for towing, a max tow rating of 5,000 lbs seems likely. Based on my discussions with automotive engineers over the years, you can get any mid-size vehicle on the road to pull 3,500lbs with minimal investment. To get to 5,000lbs towing, however, Hyundai will likely need to invest in some frame strengthening, larger brakes, and additional cooling for the engine and transmission.

It may be that Hyundai will decide against making this investment…if market analysis concludes that your average 4-door mid-size truck buyer can “get by” with 3,500 lbs tow capacity, Hyundai might save their pennies on upgrading the frame, brakes, etc.

Cabs, Beds and Pricing

The Santa Cruz will be offered as a crew cab with a 5′ bed. The reasons for offering only one cab option are many:

  1. A four-door cab is by far the most popular choice for recreational truck buyers.
  2. The shorter 5′ or 5.5′ bed is the most popular length for buyers of both full-size four door trucks and buyers of the Tacoma and Frontier.
  3. Fewer options and configurations reduce costs.
  4. The Santa Cruz is going to be designed with a worldwide marketplace in mind, and a 5′ bed is just fine everywhere in the world. Only buyers in the USA ask for longer bed lengths.

It’s safe to assume Hyundai will offer the same trim levels as the Santa Fe – a GLS and a Limited. Pricing should fall between $30 and $35k, making the Santa Cruz pricing very comparable to pricing on similar four door Tacomas and Frontiers.

Holes In Our Analysis

No responsible prediction can be offered without discussing some of the limitations of the prediction being offered. The biggest “hole” in this analysis is that the mid-size pickup truck market isn’t expected to grow. It’s unusual for an automaker to invest in building a product for a declining market segment (but not unheard of).

Additionally, fuel economy and emissions regulations will make selling pickup trucks much harder after 2020. While Hyundai undoubtedly has a plan to get the Santa Fe to meet all the fuel economy requirements, making a pickup truck that will also pass these requirements may be cost-prohibitive (assuming small sales volume, that is). Of course, a longer wheelbase pickup truck doesn’t have to meet the same targets as the base SUV, so there may not be a problem here.

Finally, the biggest problem is that no one at Hyundai has confirmed any of this.

Still, we believe that Hyundai is going to bring the truck described above to the USA in 4 years or so, and none of the people we talked to thought our analysis was unreasonable.

What do you think – will Hyundai build the truck as described, or will it be different? Or will there be no truck at all?

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  1. Mickey says:

    Looks to be like the ridgheline. As far as pricing I don’t agree with all masnufacturer’s pricing of those trucks. For the same price you can get a well equipped full size version.

  2. mk says:

    It would make sense to get into the lighter truck market since not many options out there besides tacoma since the ford ranger and dodge dakota is gone and the chevy colorado 5 cylinder is junk. Tacoma has no competition and I believe even the honda ridgeline is gone.

    It would sell to a unique buyer and if is anything like my 3.5L V6 Hyunda Santa fe, should expect 25-26 avg mpg with buttery smooth tranny and trouble free. Great idea I’d like to see it happen and more mfgs. taking a chance on the market like this instead of all the cookie cutter vehicles on the market nowadays.

    Doubt I would buy one but if it had a 6′ bed, I’d be highly considering it as long as the bed between wheel wells are 50″ wide but highly doubt they will be. I would highly consider it for a commuter car and a weekend warrior if they came with a topper accessory for it as well

    The turbo 4 cylinder is suppose to replace the 6 cylinder in the hyundai lineup. They claim it is snappy but in my opinion, no substitute for lower rpm’s in a buttery smooth V6 still achieving same mpg. I’ll take my santa fe being much cheaper to buy, bigger, and just as powerful with same avg mpg if not better since 6 speed vs. 5 speed comparing 3.5L V6′s identical in the RAV4 prior to re-design. I ahd the 3.5L V6 RAV4 and was decent, but the 3.5L V6 santa fe is better and cheaper and just as well made.

  3. mk says:

    Oh yah, I forgot. I may go against the grain here, but mfgs. need to come up with V6 pickups (may or may not be like this santa fe concept pickup) that have mid-level towing capabilities which is what I need to pull 3000 lbs. maximum and still fit 5 people comfortably (this santa fe concept will) and still have a 6′ or 6′ 3″ bed all while achieving 25 hwy mpg. It can be done, just mfgs. are not smart enough to do it yet.

    Plus, I feel with say our tundra’s having so much power now as compared to later models, the hp keeps going up but the mpg stays the same. My first pickup, a 350 chevy silverado somewhere around 1994 year or so (can’t remember) still had around 300 hp and was plenty powerful enough and roomy but still got 16 hwy mpg just like my tundra does. Why is that? Can’t mfgs. come up with better fuel economy pickups on hwy at 25 mpg, but still offering mid-range towing capabilities at 4-5,000 lbs. maximum? I don’t need a full size pickup towing 10K lbs., but the alternative is a dinky say tacoma which is too skinny fitting 4 people with too short a bed length to be useful to me and yet still only achieves about 20 mpg hwy if that.

    This santa fe will be a winner if they decide to go that route fitting 5 people comfortably and able to tow 3500 lbs. which fits my needs but needs to have a 6′ bed minimum to make it work for me. It can be done, just do it! I’d love to have something like this 6′ bed and still achieve 25 hwy mpg. in a V6 engine. These V6 engines made nowadays achieve near equal 4 cylinder hwy mpg. and offer plenty of power for my needs.

  4. DrLou says:

    $30-35K for a lifestyle pickup is out the running. History tells us this isn’t a very lucrative segment. Look at the Honda Ridgeline’s market-share. The Ridgeline is a mid-size, unibody, V-6, in the same price range and it hasn’t sold well. Honda is redesigning this truck for the 2014/2015 time frame. If Honda learned from it’s experience, it will produce a compact pickup with a base price under $20K, be able to haul 4 X 8 sheets, offer RWD or AWD, and get >35 MPG. Hyundai should learn from Honda’s mistakes and produce something that will fill the compact pickup truck vacuum.

  5. art64 says:

    Ridgeline updated and resurrected.

  6. GoBig says:

    I think it looks a lot more like a Toyota Hilux or the international version of the Ford ranger pickup than the Honda Ridgeline.

    I know a few people who own Hyundai’s and they seem to love them. They are typically priced cheaper than the Japanese cars, and come with an impressive warranty.

    This could make things interesting for the Tacoma if it comes to fruition.

  7. mk says:

    It will make things interesting for tacoma ONLY if the price is around the 25-27K mark anything over 30K and it is too high priced. I highly doubt it will be over 30K since Hyundai’s are not that expensive but we are talking 2017 which is awhile yet. Yes, Hyundai’s are cheaper than Toyota similar vehicles and just as good, well most of them, not all models. Hyundai elantra is better than corolla, santa fe (even tucson) is better than RAV4, and I’d take the Sonata over the Camry anyday. The biggest issue I have is lack of dealer network with Hyundai but haven’t had to use them yet in 2 years now no issues whatsoever.

  8. Mickey says:

    I wouldn’t jump on Hyundai since they falsified the mpg’s they get on all of their models.

  9. [...] post Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Truck by 2017? appeared first on Tundra Headquarters [...]

  10. rex says:

    I Hyundai but I drive a 1987 ford some times just because I need a pick up. I have a 2009 accent and a 2005 Santa fe and love them both.Not sure if I will go for the new pick up with a 5 foot box.Might if it was 6 foot and would any thing 7 foot plus .I had a 1985 fuel injected Toyota 7 foot long box but traded it in when I got the 2005.Ford have a long box and like said above we love our longer box’s.try to get a cord of fire wood in a 5 foot box or a sheet of ply wood or a 4 wheeler .

  11. very good, suitable for worksoft making the feet sense your own trekking in heavenstitching isn’t really whatever expected. It is extremely bad, the next afternoon Simply put i wore firefall gold, the stitch ended up!!!!

  12. Ron says:

    This is awesome if Hyundai comes out with a truck!! A lot of people have been waiting for this… Thanks Hyundai

  13. J.C. Dalio says:

    Aaauuughhh!

    All you guys talking about a “longer” bed than 5′ – WHY?

    99% of the time you use the truck as a commuter. 1% (OK I will give you 2%) of the time you need to haul “longer” stuff… News flash – put the tailgate down!

    If you “constantly” haul 4-wheelers, why are you looking at a small pickup in the first place?

    Engines? Can you say DIESEL? Everywhere else in the world, pickups (and for that matter cars) are powered by diesels. It is utter nonsense that a gasser can compete with a diesel power plant in a truck – small or large. The “big three” build and ship diesel versions of their cars and trucks around the world, yet bypass the U.S. market. Why? I won’t answer that question lest I come off as a conspiracy theory nut job. Suffice to say, the U.S. market is being denied what the rest of the world already has… and has had for years.

    Back to what 90% of what you weekend warriors use those “tricked out” huge dinosaur pickups for:
    1. Taking the trash to the dump.
    2. Buying some plywood and 2X4′s at the local big box home improvement center. (maybe buy a new grill)
    3. Take leaves, lawn clutter to the dump in the fall.
    4. Throw a couple backpacks and some camping gear in the bed to take the Cub Scouts camping once a month.

    Explain to me why you need 300 bhp and 400#ft. of torque to do that?

    To address the Ridgeline, first, its UGLY! There is no way around making the thing even a little attractive. With the funny sweeping sides there isn’t a clean way to cover the bed. AND it only gets 20 mpg. And the funny plastic bed left no confidence that it wouldn’t become a stinking wet mess.

    The Ford Sport Trac(almost)had it. Again, the funny plastic bed floor was a non-starter. It had the nice Ford ride and interior comfort. Again, less than 20 mpg. Why???

    For all those who gave reasons why “full size” trucks compare and even out perform the current offerings of “midsize” trucks have hit the nail squarely on the head. Why should I buy a Tacoma for $35K that gets 20 mpg when I can get a full size Chevy Silverado 1500 equally equipped (insert Ford or Dodge version) for the same or less money AND get better towing, cargo AND same if not better mpg? You shouldn’t!

    The issue is, the “small” or “midsize” truck market has become fat like the rest of us Americans. The ’80s and ’90s Tacomas stole the market because they provided value with the right performance, size, and price.

    Ford never kept up with styling of the Ranger because they put their eggs in the full size basket, the Chevy Colorado was junk. (GM thought they could just sell the Bowtie)and Dodge – well kids, you can keep your Chrysler products. The Dakota was a gas guzzling pig. (If it wasn’t for the Cummings DIESEL, Dodge would have been a distant 3rd in the entire pickup market)

    Bottom line, I am asking Santa to please, please bring me a Hyundai Pickup for Christmas. That is, if they run the play from the book that Toyota did in the ’80s and ’90s. With the technology updates available today, and an efficient Turbo Diesel – Game Over!

  14. Charlie says:

    Love my 2011 Sonata. Almost ready to trade up my 2009 Santa Fe 50K miles as they now offer 2013/14 with tow capacity of 5000lbs and 290HP; HOWEVER and this where us weekend warriors DO need torque. I have 20′ fishing boat, tandem axle trailer and the 5000# towing is a minimum in my opinion. The 252ft# torque is way less than 325-400ft# of torque which is needed for any moderate towing and a key reason why I am considering moving to V8 alternative manuf.

    I am not up to speed on all the cafe requirements coming into play but why doesnt’t Hyundai just offer the Genesis V6 or RSpec motor or yes a DIESEL in both the Santa Fe and Santa Cruz???? Plus add air adjust rear for trailering (nothing fancy needed)

    With their interiors, improved sound dampening combined with a decent power plant, I think they would capture market share including some YUKON/ESCALADE and Sequoia.

    Business wise they could get back to the $10K savings which got them to where they compete best by niche positioning. Note the Limited Santa Fe is no longer the huge savings over the competitors (Highlander, Rav, Cherokee)

    The sooner Hi get the Rspec/diesel motor and correct tranny in both the Santa Fe and Santa Cruz, they will definitely take market share of the weekend warriors and otherwise wannabees.

    Any news on what power plant will be offered in the 2015?

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Charlie,

      I haven’t heard any news on what new power plant will be in the Sante Fe. Also, I must say I am pretty impressed by your review of the Santa Fe’s towing ability. I hadn’t thought about this at all with that product.

      -Tim

  15. Ron says:

    I think is so exciting!!! I think it will be a awesome Truck!!!

  16. I have owned three Hyundai product. Two Santa Fe’s and a Sonata. Very pleased with all of them and will buy a truck unless its priced to high compared to others like the Frontier or Tacoma.

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